Gambling is the placing of something of value – such as money or goods – on an event that depends on chance. It is a common form of entertainment and can be found in many places such as casinos, horse racing tracks, arcades, and even online. People gamble for a variety of reasons including socialising, escaping from boredom or anxiety and getting an adrenaline rush. However, for some, gambling can get out of hand and cause problems. If you are concerned about your own gambling or someone you know, there is help available.
Almost half of all UK adults take part in some form of gambling activity and for some it can be enjoyable, but for others it can damage their physical or mental health, impact their relationships, work or study performance and lead to debt or homelessness. It can also be a major contributor to suicide and is associated with depression, substance abuse and anxiety.
There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of developing a gambling problem. These include:
Setting limits: When gambling, only gamble with money that you can afford to lose – and never with money you need to pay bills or rent. Also, only gamble with disposable income, and set a limit on how much time you can spend gambling each day – stick to this no matter what!
Making informed decisions: Before you gamble, understand how the game works. Learn the odds of winning and losing, how to calculate your chances of a win and what the payouts are. This will give you a better idea of whether you are a good gambler or not and how to make wise decisions.
Avoiding compulsive behaviour: Try to stop gambling when you are feeling down, stressed or anxious. Gambling can trigger these feelings, so it is important to find other ways of relieving them such as exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble or practicing relaxation techniques.
Preventing relapse: If you have struggled with gambling in the past, it is important to seek help before you start again. There are a number of different treatment and support services available, including residential and inpatient programs.
There are three elements to gambling: a decision, a risk and a prize. People gamble for a range of reasons, from the thrill of winning to socialising or escaping stress or anxiety. However, for some, gambling can become out of control and cause problems. If you think your gambling is out of control, speak to a GP or a therapist, or get non-judgemental support from the GamCare helpline. You can also get self-help tips and advice from the Gamble Aware website.